It’s no mystery that yoga is not contained on that rectangular slab of rubber you roll out in your yoga studio. We take our yoga with us to work, into our homes and we feather it into our relationships. But when’s the last time you took your practice below sea level?
Scuba diving is essentially underwater yoga. But not the traditional, asana-based practice. Diving is the embodiment of the mental and spiritual practice, while under water.
This unique liquid meditation is highly accessible for anyone who practices land-based yoga. Do you have a yoga practice? Great! You are a natural diver.
If you’re considering diving for the first time (or you’re looking for a new way to approach it), use the following yogic principles to make the experience more meditative:
1. Choose to move beyond fear and the unknown
First, you have to try scuba diving. A mixture of nerves—terror and excitement mostly—were pounding through my body before my first dive. Before I could overanalyze the danger below, I sat down, crossed my legs and fell backwards into the water. Surrender.
2. Concentrate and withdraw the senses
In an instant the wind, the noise, and the fear all disappeared. I splashed into an alternate universe. Your senses change immediately underwater. The ears hear strange, muddled noises. The only real sound is your own breath and bubbles. The eyes are stuffed behind a mask and can’t be trusted because color and depth perception have changed. Accept your new paradigm. You are left with your mind and your breath as your primary companions. Focus.
3. Just breathe
The key is slow, calm, and deliberate breathing. Not only is this beneficial to how artificial oxygen affects your state of mind, but you use less air and you’re able to dive longer. Win! That’s great news because you’re a yogi and you love pranayama. You’re getting into your groove now. Your inhales and exhales are lengthening. The sound of your breath is so loud and melodic it could put you into a trance. Inhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Quieting the mind.
4. Feel sensation
You begin to notice the slightest change in your breathing pattern alters your buoyancy in the water. It’s fascinating. You slowly fill your lungs and rise just slightly in the water. You exhale even slower now and feel your entire body glide a few inches lower. No effort needed.
5. Move slowly and with intention
Just as yogic breath is beneficial to preserving the oxygen in your tank, so is slow and deliberate movement. Any unnecessary expenditure of energy should be avoided. The best divers seem to glide through the water like birds through a cloud. Move with grace.
6. Observe and shift
If you can relax, focus, breathe, and quiet the mind you are about to experience the shift. It first happened to me underwater as I felt my true soul experience the magnificence of the ocean. My mind was totally still. I began swimming parallel to a school of shimmering, silver fish dancing together in perfect synchronization. At that moment, I became one of them. Swimming, exploring and existing together in an underwater universe.
7. Experience timelessness
Any diver will tell you, the dives seem to last 5 minutes. But they’re also amazing and packed full of moments. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it is. Anyone that has experienced this unique quality of time doing something they love can relate. You are deep in your underwater meditation now.
8. Come back
Suddenly, the dive master gives the signal and snaps you back to real time. As you slowly float upwards, your ears may crackle as they adjust to the pressure change. Eventually, your face will break the surface of the water. Suddenly you hear everything again. It’s loud. The cold wind blasts your wet face. You bob and sway uncomfortably in the current. You are no longer a graceful fish.
As you take your seat back on the boat, pause a moment to reflect. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with what has been revealed to you.
Relax under pressure and dive deeper into yourself.